Arusha, 11 June 2009 (FH) - The re-trial of Lieutenant Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi, which begins next Wednesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), will plunge the judges at the heart of the subtlety of Rwandan proverbs, reports Hirondelle Agency.

1 min 27Approximate reading time

During the 1994 genocide, the defendant was posted at the School for Non-Commissioned Officers in Butare, southern Rwanda. The prosecutor alleges that he was the interim commander, which the officer denies.

Muvunyi will be re-tried for a single fact: a speech which he allegedly made at a public meeting towards the end of May 1994 in the commerce center of Gikore, Nyaruhengeri commune, prefecture of Butare.

"Lieutenant Colonel Muvunyi's speech to this meeting included proverbs in Kinyarwanda which were inflamatory", claims in his preliminary brief, Charles Adeogun-Philips, from the Office of the prosecutor.

"These proverbs were understood by local population as calls to exterminate all Tutsis, including women and children", added Adeogun-Philips.

He affirmed that after this speech, the Hutu peasants in Gikore started to massacre their Tutsi neighbours.

To support his theory, the prosecution intends to call six material witnesses and an expert witness, the Rwandan socio-linguist Evariste Ntakirutimana, a professor at the National University of Rwanda (UNR).

The academic will present to the Chamber "a socio-linguistics analysis of certain polysemic terms used during the war of 1990 to 1994 in Rwanda".

During his testimony in Muvunyi's first trial in July 2005, the linguist had stated that in Rwanda, peasants use proverbs more often than educated people.

He had stressed that this type of expression praised in Rwandan culture is learned, not at school, but in family and in society in general.

The ICTR prosecutor alleges that the style to exterminate Tutsis was done in a manner which will not draw attention of outside community.

Arrested in February 2000 in the United Kingdom and transferred eight months later to the ICTR detention centre, Lieutenant Colonel Muvunyi was sentenced to 25 years in prison on 12 September 2006 after being found guilty of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide and other inhuman acts.

On 29 August 2008, the Appeal Chamber had cancelled the guilty verdict as well as the sentence, and had ordered a new trial for "direct and public incitement to commit genocide", related to the speech in Gikore.


© Hirondelle News Agency